Jim Friedman

Stickmen

Hunting huge animals,
stickmen like burnt matches
run across a cave wall.

One hunter has fallen,
is left behind, limbs splayed,
drawn like a crossing out.

Nearby, figures surround
a fire as red as life
keeping darkness away.

What have they gathered for?
As survivors, perhaps,
to eat, later to howl

for that spread-eagled man,
X-ed like a treasure map
that tells them where death is?

Here’s his small requiem;
a torch held long enough
to picture him as dead,

his kin sharing a fire
while they felt what was left
of him burning in them.

Markings made out of soot,
manganese, some water,
a little of their blood.

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Stickmen by Jim Friedman won Second Prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2019) judged by Oz Hardwick.
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Jim Friedman lives in Beeston, Nottinghamshire and is a member of the Derby Stanza group. He taught English at Loughborough University with special interests in contemporary poetry and medieval studies. He had a second career as a relationship counsellor and supervisor with Relate. Since retiring he has started writing poetry again after a forty-year break.

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